If you take away the departure of the Houston Texans’ most decorated offensive player, wide receiver Andre Johnson, the Texans are a team that seems to have done the right things so far in the off-season.
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They have cinched up an already tough defense by giving cornerback Kareem Jackson a shiny new deal. In addition, Houston filled their free agency shopping cart with former Denver Broncos safety Rahim Moore and long-time New England Patriot offensive line powerhouse Vince Wilfork.
Although the quarterback quandary is still muddled, there is hope that a solution can be found in-house after the re-signing of Ryan Mallett. To improve their odds even more, the Texans brought in Mallett’s former teammate from the Pats, Brian Hoyer and have kept Tom Savage on the roster as well. This mix should provide some healthy competition for the signal-calling duties for Houston once training camp begins.
As we switch gears a bit, it’s now time to focus on the college draft, which will begin on Thursday, April 30. Will the Texans change course and forego drafting a pass rusher? The team has gone that direction with three out of four of its last first round picks. First it was J.J. Watt in 2011, followed by Whitney Mercilus in 2012 and Jadeveon Clowney in 2014. The first of those, obviously turned out pretty well. The jury remains out on the other two, unfortunately.
According to an article from Houstontexans.com writer Drew Dougherty, 26 percent of a pool of noteworthy draft boards have the Texans using their number 16 selection on a wide receiver. That was followed closely by 17 percent who predict Houston will choose a cornerback and another 17 percent who opted for a defensive lineman.
There is an obvious need at wideout created by Johnson’s absence. Although DeAndre Hopkins was the team’s leading receiver in 2014 with 1,210 yards, the second starting receiver spot will likely be up for grabs when the team reports to camp.
If they choose wisely, the Texans could not only find a receiver to compliment Hopkins, but also provide help on an aspect of the Houston lineup that was sorely lacking in 2014…special teams.
The Texans ranked a lowly 31st out of 32 teams in yards per punt return this last season, besting only the Chicago Bears. Should Houston be able to find a viable option at wide receiver who is also a special teams’ ace, it could prove to be a huge difference maker.
As the frenzy of free agency slows and momentum toward the college draft kicks into high gear, the Texans have plenty of choices to consider no matter whether they go defense once again or decide to try to address receiving and special teams issues. What do you think the Texans will do with the number 16 pick?